ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will sign eight memorandums of understanding (MoUs) during the coming visit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman and will also institute a follow-up mechanism for implementation of the agreements.

Addressing a news conference, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, who was accompanied by Infor­mation Minister Fawad Chaudhry and Prime Minister’s Adviser on Commerce Abdul Razak Dawood, said the crown prince’s visit would help further strengthen the fraternal ties between the two countries.

“I am immensely glad that there is a qualitative change in our ties and this direction would continue in the future,” he told reporters at the press conference. The Foreign Office had in a statement earlier said: “The visit of Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman is expected to significantly enhance bilateral ties between the two countries in all spheres of cooperation.”

The crown prince will reach Pakistan on Feb 16. After completing the visit, he will leave for Malaysia on Feb 17 from where he will travel to India on Feb 19.

Shah Mehmood Qureshi says eight MoUs to be signed by Islamabad, Riyadh

Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman, who will be accompanied on the visit by a high-powered delegation including members of the Saudi royal family, key ministers and leading businessmen, will meet President Dr Arif Alvi, Prime Minister Imran Khan, Army Chief Gen Qamar Bajwa and a Senate delegation.

Mr Qureshi said the crown prince would oversee the signing of eight MoUs on investment, finance, power, renewable energy, internal security, media, culture and sports.

It is difficult to quantify the investment these MoUs would bring, but it is believed that Saudis are considering investing up to $12 billion in near future. The biggest project to be undertaken is the setting up of a refinery and possibly a petrochemical complex in Gwadar.

Mr Qureshi underlined the preparatory process between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia that preceded the visit. “The advance team has gone back after the discussions and the MoUs are being prepared in the light of those talks and the decisions taken there,” he said.

“The two countries will also discuss ways and means to develop a robust follow-up mechanism to ensure effective implementation and quick progress on tangible areas of cooperation,” the FO statement said.

The Saudi ministers accompanying the crown prince will, meanwhile, meet their counterparts to discuss bilateral cooperation in their respective fields. A meeting of the businessmen is also planned on the sidelines of the visit to discuss possibilities of collaboration in the private sector.

Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry told reporters that Pakistan was playing a significant role in the Middle East.

Germany visit

Foreign Minister Qureshi said he would attend a conference on the Afghan issue in Munich. He will leave for Germany on Thursday, where besides attending the conference, he will meet Afghan President Ashraf Ghani.

Mr Qureshi and Mr Ghani will co-chair a meeting in which they will present their respective countries’ perspective on the evolving situation in Afghanistan and the region.

About improvement in relations with the US, the foreign minister said “unease” in the ties had now ended.

Published in Dawn, February 14th, 2019

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